Free SHS will not be reviewed, govt will continue to fund it- Finance Minister
Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta has denied claims that the flagship free senior high school policy is not under review.
The Minister states that the government has placed human capital development at the core of our national transformation efforts since 2017.
He said the government has invested GH¢ 5.3 billion to enable 1,261,495 Ghanaian children access to secondary education under the Free SHS programme at the end 2021 to improve access to education. Out of the 571,892 registered JHS candidates, 555,353, representing 97.1 percent, were placed into SHS this year.
He said this is significant We are aware of reported challenges in accessing and transporting food for students in SHS and we are fixing it.
“In response, we have engaged stakeholders and devised a programme that ensures that schools will not be disrupted and our students are well-fed. Government has also recently completed 17 additional projects including classroom blocks, dormitories, staff bungalows and libraries as part of infrastructural expansion in Senior High Schools. To deal with the record increases in student numbers.
Mr Speaker, we shall not compromise on President Akufo-Addo’s commitment to giving all our children the opportunity to be educated from kindergarten to university, without the ability to pay being a hindrance. Free Secondary and TVET education are not under review. We will continue to fund them and we will continue to improve them.”
On the Ghana School Feeding Programme he said “Mr. Speaker, thanks to tax payers, since January, 3,620,468 pupils in 10,832 public basic schools have been fed with one hot meal every school going day in the first half of the year under the Ghana School Feeding Programme. The programme provides employment for 32,496 caterers. School feeding programme remains an important initiative that keeps our children in school and provides jobs and incomes for several people, mainly women.”
On health the Minister said Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to report that work has commenced and are at various stages of construction in 87 out of the 111 sites earmarked for the Agenda 111 project. With the majority of the contractors at various sites, we are well on course to bridge the health inequality gap and strengthen the health system nationwide.
Furthermore, the following Health infrastructure projects are expected to be completed by end year 2022. These are:
• construction of one district hospital and five Polyclinics in Western Region (Akontombra, Nsuaem, Elubo, Wassa Dunkwa, Bogoso and Mpohor);
• expansion and equipping of four selected facilities project in Aburi (Kom), Tetteh Quashie, Kibi and Atibie); and
• equipping of Upper East (Bolgatanga) Regional Hospital, Phase II.
Mr. Speaker, it is important to recall that the timely intervention by this Government to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic preserved the lives and livelihood of Ghanaians. The economic measures staved-off a recession and have sustained the momentum of economic recovery (from 0.5 percent in 2020 to 5.4% in 2021).
Mr. Speaker, last month I provided a comprehensive update on COVID-19 expenditures to this House. I welcomed your directive to the Committees of Finance and Health to further understand the expenditures incurred by MDAs under COVID. To complement this accountability process, I have also requested the Auditor-General to audit the COVID-19 expenditures in line with its statutory obligations.
Mr. Speaker, the COVID-related expenditures had to be met. They saved lives and promoted inclusive growth. The impact of these interventions will certainly transcend the momentary challenges we face.”